Monday, 29 May 2017

Theme Mastery // Kingdom Pen writing course

Theme has always been a struggle for me. It's such a tricky part of writing, and I've never been able to work out what in the world I was meant to do with it.

How can I not be preachy, but still be Christian in my writing? Can I write a 'Christian' novel but not specifically mention God in it? Or am I just wasting my time? Would it be more profitable to go to town and bash people in the face with a bible? (I promise I've never actually thought this one until just now. XD)

And I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this battle of doubt and confusion.

But over the last few months, I've been learning. I've been killing my brain over theme and character arcs and experiments in living. (And enjoying it, don't get me wrong)

And I've been doing that by taking the course Theme Mastery: How to Write Christian Literature that Captivates

You might have heard the name Josiah DeGraaf, or maybe the site/community of Kingdom Pen. (If not GO DISCOVER THEM RIGHT NOW BECAUSE I PROMISE THAT YOU WON'T REGRET IT) *ahem* Anyways, Josiah is the amazingly talented writer who made this course, and it was through Kingdom Pen that I found out about it.
Or rather, I found out that it was a) theme and b) severely discounted for a limited amount of time for beta testers to sign up. So of course I jumped right in. (I know, I'm just such a ooh-look-it's-free person. Although technically it wasn't completely free this time.)

And it was SO AMAZING.

Every single lesson: I learnt a heap of things. Every single bit of homework and reading work and discussion. It all made me think and learn so. much. stuff.

I used to have a vague idea of theme and that it was nice thing to have and that it needed to be good and done well and not preachy and blah blah blah. But I didn't really grasp the full importance of it, and nor did I fully realise what exactly it even was.

But then all that changed and now I know how to plot out a novel's theme and do venn diagram mashes of Experiments in Living and tie in the theme with the plot and characters. 
(Note: in theory I know how to do this. I have the information in my brain, it's just a matter of practice as I work things out more and more and I'm never ever going to stop learning in this area, I know that for sure.)

And what's more, I didn't learn just about theme. I learnt about humans and personalities and it made me think more about why people do the things they do.

And trust me, that can be really interesting. Let me show you an example:

Me: Why is that dude eating a doughnut?
Sister: Um...because he likes doughnuts, I guess.
Me: But...but why?

It makes you question everyone's motives, and therefore makes you better prepared for all circumstances. Why is that lady fiddling with the brim of her hat? Maybe she has a secret weapon hidden beneath it that shoots poison darts at unsuspecting- *slumps unconscious* Because you never know when that might be important. *sage nod*

And noooo I'm totally not getting distracted now. Totally. Not.

Basically, this course legit and honestly actually changed my life. And guys, I'm telling you right now, it was a change for the better. Some of the homework got me to delve into my own faith and study the bible and the whole course is pointing to Jesus over and over.

It was such a good reminder that I'm writing for God, not for anyone else in this world.

AND GUYSSS. CHARACTER ARCS ARE SO COOL. I love them. So much fun to work with and plan out and agh. It was amazing. HAVE I SAID THAT YET? (Shhh, yes Jane, you've screamed that about twenty times in the last five minutes) And foil characters and Experiments in Living and Poetic Justice and Mimesis. And you allll need to buy the course and learn about these epic things because honestly it's so much fun.

I feel like I'm just gushing and flailing about this now. *ahem* But it's all true. 
Spoiler: my original plan for this post was for it to be a book review style, only a course review. But then I forgot about the post until late at night, so the content slipped into flailing and shrieking and everything that my blog normally is, I just try to live in the delusion that I'm actually intelligible sometimes. XD

Back to it.
Theme Mastery has a super good resources list and reading and homework assignments. And eeep so many things that are just so good, and it's all designed to teach and develop skills. It takes work, yep. Sometimes it took me over an hour to do the homework assignments (*cough* totally wasn't procrastinating there) but they helped so much. And the hands-on examples of how everything really does work were great to see.

Also - Josiah quotes Aristotle and Plato and a bunch of old, dead, wise philosophers (along with several not-so-old and several not-so-dead wise peoples) and how cool is that? It applies. What they said then, is true just as much today as for the writers in their time.

And the great thing is that the course is self-paced and once you buy it you have it foreverrrr. And it's a full family license and everything so siblings are no problem and they can just borrow accounts and all that fun stuff.

But the best news of all...

*drum roll please*

The course got released to the public on the 22nd of May.
AND Theme Mastery is currently ON SALE for heaps less than it normally would be. SO GO CHECK IT OUT NOW BECAUSE I ASSURE YOU IT'LL BE AMAZING AND LIFE CHANGING AND EEP JUST DO IT.

And just in case you haven't noticed all the handy links, click HERE to go to the Theme Mastery page thingamy. (Also, if you scroll down far enough you can see that they put my testimony on their page. I am so honoured.)

Are you going to check this course out more?
(*cough cough* AND PROMPTLY SELL YOUR SOUL TO BUY IT. But actually no, don't sell your soul because that wouldn't be good and you wouldn't be able to appreciate it as much without a soul.)
Have you got any good tips on writing theme?
(Because I'm not styling myself as any sort of expert or anything and I want to know what your thoughts are)

Friday, 26 May 2017

The Adventures of Lando Erif :: The Day I Stopped the Steam Train (Pt. Two)

Hello and welcome to Jane-freaking-out-because-where-is-May-gone. Today's episode is all about steam trains and duct tape and oh-man-where-did-the-time-go.

Not saying that I wrote this late at night *cough*early*cough* or anything.

BUT ANYWAY. Before I go on a tangent about my bad habits of forgetting to go to bed before midnight, I'm going to drop you off with the story.

Have fun.

The twins disappeared off the platform, leaving me alone on the empty station. I slumped down in a seat, wondering how long until another train came. Pulling my book out of the backpack at my feet, I started idly flicking through the pages, still unable to concentrate.

Knowing the evil fairy of destruction and heat is trying her best to misplace your head isn’t a most comforting thought.

After about thirty minutes of waiting I had become decidedly bored. Maybe I should’ve gone with the twins and stayed until the next train was due. Then I suddenly remembered that I had no idea when that actually would be.

I walked over to the booking office and looked at the timetable sheet. The times and dates kept trying to mix up and I stared at it for five minutes straight, trying to get my head around it.

“Did you need assistance?”

I spun around to find a short man dressed in a painfully ironed uniform. “Er…” I glanced back at the timetable. “When’s the next train coming?”

He looked morose. “Not until seven tonight, sorry.”

“Oh,” my heart sank. “Isn’t there usually one around midday?”

“Usually, except today it is cancelled because of the Hunter Valley Steamfest. There will be a steam train coming in—” he checked his watch “—about three quarters of an hour.”

“Oh,” I said again.

“Sorry,” he repeated. “Is there anything else?”

“Ah no, I’ll be fine,” I said. I turned back down the platform, sitting in seat again.

The phone in my pocket buzzed.

I frowned, wondering why Thomas would be calling me. Pulling it out, I touched the ‘answer,’ hoping that nothing had happened to them.

“Oh hello, Lando dear.”

My heart froze at the distinct mocking tone of Zana Bradford.

“I just thought you should know, there are two sorry looking boys duct-taped to the train track and I was wondering if they were yours,” she paused a moment to see if I had anything to say.

I stared dumbly at the phone.

“Well, they’re about three and a half kilometres out of Singleton, and I was just a tad concerned for them since I thought the track had been closed because of the Steamfest. The steam train is only a little way away from where those two poor boys are,” she ended in a sorrowful tone.

“You—” I managed but then the phone bleeped, signalling that Zana had hung up.

A surge of hatred flashed through me, first Zana had gate crashed my party and tried to kill me, then she’d tried to get me with the evil white kittens, and now she’d duct taped the twins to the train track.

This was going too far.

I jumped to my feet, dashing back over to the booking office. The man looked up from his smart phone as I skidded to a stop in front of his desk.

“Got a problem?” he asked, clearly bored.

“Is there any possible way to stop the steam train?” I panted.

“Sorry, what was that?”

“Is there any possible way to stop the steam train?” I yelled at him.

He leaned back in his seat. “No need to yell,” he frowned.

“Just tell me then,” I bit back my frustration.

“No,” he shook his head. “The train will get here in about half an hour.”

“But my friends are tied to the tracks,” I protested.

He leaned forward. “Look kid, that steam train is coming whatever you say. If your friends are idiots enough to lie on the tracks then that’s their prob. Okay?” Dismissing me with a wave, he returned his attention to the phone in his hand.

I gaped at him for a moment. Why did no one ever believe me?

I spun on my heel and stormed out onto the platform again. I wasn’t going to just stand around waiting for my best friends to get flattened by some steam train. A flash of inspiration hit me and I picked up my phone again.

Thomas had mentioned something about having put several phone numbers from some of the other Dragon Island Recruits into the contacts. I scanned through the list of names, finally finding the one I wanted. Scarlette Broome.

She’d once said she worked on steam trains in Maitland, and this train came from that way somewhere. There had to be a chance that she’d be connected somehow.

I tapped the ‘ring’ icon and waited, jumping from one foot to the other in my nervousness. Eventually the faint ringing stopped and sound suddenly exploded into my ear. I made out a vague voice behind all the roaring background noise.

“Er, what was that?” I said loudly.

“Sorry, I can’t really hear you,” Scarlatte’s indistinct voice came through the noise.

“Uh, this is Lando,” I raised my voice slightly.

“Huh? Still can’t hear you.”

“I’m Lando,” I yelled into the phone.


“Lando Erif,” I repeated.

“Lando? What about him?” Scarlette seemed confused.

“I am Lando,” I shouted.

“Oh. Wait, how come you have my number?”

“I…just do,” I said. “Where are you?”

“Really can’t hear you. It’s a little loud here,” Scarlette replied in a yell.

“Where are you?” I hollered.

“I’m on a steam train on the way to Singleton. If there’s some Dragon Island emergency ask someone else. And why do you even have my number?”

“You’re on the steam train?” I shouted in relief. “Great, can you stop it?”

“Stop what?”

“The train.”

“Why? Is there a dragon on the tracks or something?”

I took a breath to calm myself. “No, the twins are duct-taped to it.”


“The twins are duct-taped to the train tracks,” I yelled.

“They’re…Oh, why? No, never mind. You’re not serious, right?” Scarlette asked.

“Yes, I am serious. Have I ever mentioned what happened on my twelfth birthday?”

“Eh? Oh yeah, the fairy thing? You’re saying she’s tied the twins to the railway track?”

“YES,” I howled. “Now just stop the train!”

She paused a moment. “Okay, I believe you. Not even you guys’d take a practical joke this far. I’ll do my best.”

The phone bleeped again.

I slumped back onto the seat. That was not the best phone call I’d ever made. I made a mental note not to try ring someone on a steam train ever again.

Zana wasn’t going to get away with this one.

Not if I had any say in it.

Jumping up, I strode to the edge of the platform, looking down at the tracks for a moment. Then I jumped down.

Don’t ask why some people call me an idiot.

I started running along the train tracks, stepping from one sleeper plank to the next, doing my best to avoid the shifting gravel in the center. There is something incredibly fun about running on a train track, although I had the downside of knowing that my friends were duct-taped to it just a few minutes away.

If there was one thing Dragon Island had taught me, it was how to run fast.

Running from dragons. Running from exploding lunch machines. Running from furious Island Co-directors. You name it. I’ve probably done it.

I mentally added ‘running to un-duct-tape the twins from the train track’ to the list.

My feet pounded along the tracks as I sprinted out of the town. The sun beat down hot on the back of my neck and I wished I hadn’t lost my cap.

I was panting for breath by the time I caught sight of a dim shape on the tracks. Pushing forward a little faster, I tripped and fell sprawling onto the boiling hot metal of the rails. Yelping, I scrambled up, running to the twins.

Zana had certainly duct-taped them sufficiently.

I dropped down beside them and started searching for somewhere to start. “Jeez, she doesn’t go in halves,” I muttered.

Both the twins looked on in silence, unable to speak with the duct tape over their mouths.

“Sorry,” I said, and ripped the piece off Titus’s face first.

“Agh,” he gasped.

Thomas gave a similar reaction only a little louder. Loud enough to have one or two exclamation marks at the end.

I flinched back, waiting for my ears to regain hearing. “What happened?”

“Zana jumped us on the way through town, gave us a dragon joyride, tied us here and left, saying that there was a steam train coming soon,” Titus said, attempting to wrench one of his hands free.

I hurried to help him.

“And she took my Com Hack,” Thomas added miserably, chewing on a strip of duct-tape.

I set to work, slowly unwinding the masses of silver tape.

“Can’t you go any faster?” Titus gasped. “I think I can hear the train coming.”

I untangled a strip and tossed it aside, setting to work on another. “I’m going as fast as I can.”

“Try a rock,” Thomas suggested.

Picking up a sharp piece of rock, I shrugged and used one edge to saw through a band of tape around Titus’s legs and looped around a part of the rails.

“Not good,” Thomas groaned, jerking on his duct tape bonds. “Really not good.”

Titus was half free, enough to start working at it himself to I turned to Thomas. As I raised my head I froze, staring at the horizon.

“What?” Thomas asked nervously.

“Er…just the train,” I started ripping through the duct tape, my heart accelerating at the distant sound.

The train didn’t sound at all how I’d expected a steam train to sound. It grew closer and closer, shrieking like something alive.

The brakes, I realised. Scarlette had managed to put on the brakes.

But it wasn’t going to be enough. At this rate they’d stop just after flattening us.

Not quite what I’d planned.

The silver tape gave way under my tearing rock, and Titus had almost completely managed to free himself.

The steam train bore down on us, brakes screaming death.

“Get out of the way,” Thomas gasped. “You’re not tied up.”

“Like I’m gonna leave you to get flattened,” I choked, stubbornly wrestling the duct tape 

A trickle of sweat ran down my forehead, I looked down, jerking away the silver tape, not wanting to see the train just before it crashed into us all.

Then, with an ear-splitting squeal, it shuddered to a halt just meters away.

I couldn’t believe it. We were still in one piece and just as not-flat as we should be.

To say that I was relieved would’ve been an under exaggeration.

Scarlette jumped out of the driver’s engine. “Hey, are you guys okay?”

I collapsed backwards, laughing weakly. “We’re fine,” I panted. “We’re all fine.”

Titus pulled free from the last restraining bits of duct tape and stood. “Scarlette! I never realised you actually liked us enough to stop us from being squashed.”

She snorted, covering up the anxious look that had been in her eyes moments before. “I just didn’t want to have to clean up the mess,” she retorted.

The driver climbed out of the engine, followed by another grease-covered man. “What are you kids doing on the tracks,” the driver asked, obviously relieved that he’d avoided a kid pancake for the day.

“It’s a bit of a long story,” I replied wearily.

“But first,” Thomas interrupted in a pained voice. “I know, tragedy diverted and all that, but would someone be kind enough to untie me? And my nose is getting itchy, d’you think you could itch it for me?” He shot Scarlette an innocent glance.

She looked down at him and shook her head. “Don’t make me regret rescuing you, Kanter.”

- end -

SO GUESS WHAT. When the twins duct taped Zana in the bathtub, it was revenge. For this time. This is actually chronologically the first time that anything duct tape related happens.

I really need to make a timeline of events for this series. >.<

Have you ever seen a steam train?
Do you normally go to bed at a sane time of night?

Monday, 22 May 2017

Attack of the Reading Slump // 10 books my brain doesn't want me to read

Let me give you two terribly important, and terribly random facts.

a) My last bookish post was August last year. SHAME ON ME. (This is not counting the Songkeeper blog tour because technically that wasn't me writing the post, it was Gillian.)

b) This year I have read a total of *drumroll please* ten books. *cries forever* IT'S SO SAD AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT'S HAPPENING TO ME ANYMORE.

*cough cough* Anyways. Screaming in caps over (actually they keep going in a bit, but shhh that's in another three paragraphs) this post is actually going to be all about me and the books I want to read but my reading-slumped brain doesn't seem to want to take the time to pick up.

Basically, this year I've been busy with writing projects, music, critiquing, school work and general life stuff. Which equals out to not very much reading time at all. (I've actually almost read more critiquing novels than published/just-for-fun novels...but that's sort of cool, because I love critiquing and helping writers improve their works.)

Anyways. I have a bunch of books just sitting around that I desperately want to read. But at the same time I don't? I'm not even sure how that works, so don't question the inner workings of my strange mind. I'm pretty certain that the ten books I have read probably have something to do with my problem, though. I read four books that I rated four stars out of five. AND six five-out-of-five stars.
(YES WOW BE IMPRESSED. AND THEN GO READ THE BOOKS) (And you can check out which books these were right along this handy dandy link)

So with all that epicness it's a little hard for most other books to live up to the standard. And every book I try just seems to slog down and drag me into the abyss of Khazad dûm. And now I'm just worried that it'll keep happening and all these books that I desperately want to read, just won't be as good as I expect.

So without any further ado and in no particular order:

-the titles and authors link to the goodreads page-

Dragonwitch (Tales of Goldstone Wood #5)
Anne Elisabeth Stengl

This one is sitting on my sister's bookshelf and I know it'll be great. Buuut something doesn't want me to read it. AND I DON'T KNOW WHYYYY. I love all the Tales of Goldstone Wood that I've read so far (Veiled Rose was one of the ten I read this year, and I cried so many times. It was amazing.) so I'm fairly well convinced that this one will be no different.

Marissa Meyer

a) Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles are great. AND WHAT IF THIS ISN'T AS GOOD???
b) apparently this is heartbreaking so I'm tossing up between choosing to murder my feels or avoid this book. 

Reckless (Mirrorworld #1)
Cornelia Funke

Alright I'm going to be honest with you. A lot of what is keeping me from this book is the cover. Weird looking eyeball with random marks (tree branches?) around it?? Uhm...excuuuse me, but is that supposed to make me want to pick up the book? Because it doesn't. It makes it look weird.
(But my copy for book two actually has a really super cool cover, so I've got to read this one just so I can read the one with the cool cover as well.)

The Brethren Rise (The Dream of Hope)
C. D. Hulen

This one is actually high on my priorities list. Because I know the author from the OYAN forum and hey would you look at that, a free copy of the book. Such a wonderful opportunity. But I desperately don't want it to have a self-published feel to it, and typos and mistakes and all that dreaded horror. BUT I KNOW IT WON'T.

But I must say that I do rather like that cover. It's pretty darn cool.

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1)
Brandon Sanderson

Okay I admit, part of what's stopping me from reading this is because it's so. insanely. long. I know it's good and that I'll like it. But it's so long and what if it's not as epic and fast paced and can't-put-it-down as I want it to be??

And even worse, what if that happens and I get stuck right in the middle of the thousand-page novel and have to somehow drag myself through the rest? *cries*

Treachery Against The House Of Fairwin
Daeus Lamb
(Very sadly this book isn't actually on goodreads. But his other one is, so you can go check that out instead.)

GUESS WHAT. This was also a free book. And I sort of know Daeus from Kingdom Pen forum/video panels. So when there was an offer of his book for free I couldn't resist and jumped right in instantly. (Hint: If you offer me a free book I will take it. I will take it right away.)

But half I just haven't gotten to it yet, and half high expectations that might let me down and I don't want that to happen. I want it to be a good book.

(But on that note you can all get this ebook for FREE if you hop over to Daeus' website)

Fallen Star (Tales of Goldstone Wood #8)
Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Aaand another of these wonderful books. It's got to be great. So...why don't I want to read it? I DON'T EVEN KNOW ANYMORE.

It sounds like such an intreiging story, and I've read Veiled Rose which has this character in it and I honestly want to know her story so bad. So what - I ask - is wrong with my brain?

K. M. Weiland

Here's another one that I know is pretty long. And also, I read Storming last year and goodness was it amazing. (5 gajillion stars for that one.) But this one. Will it be as good? Should I be expecting better or slightly less good? I can't decide. Hence it's been taunting me just out of reach.

A Question of Honor (Questions of War #1)
Jesseca Wheaton

I actually got given a free (yes, another free ebook for Jane xD) e-copy of this in exchange for my review AND I HAVEN'T MANAGED TO GET TO IT YET. And I feel awful about it. Such shame. And I really really want to read it too. I'm probably most likely getting to this one next after my current read. (Insignia, if you were curious)

Steelheart (Reckoners #1)
Brandon Sanderson

Aaand I'm finishing up with another Brandon Sanderson book. Because why not. This one I don't have any good reasons for why I'm not reading it yet. Other than that I'm busy, basically. >.<

And all these things are seeming to come down to one problem: "What if it's not as good as I think it will be?" But no matter how much I tell myself that it's ridiculous and I know that they'll be good, I just. can't. read. *sighs*

Such is the attack of the reading slump.

I keep comparing myself to last year when I read 27 books in January. But that said, last year I hadn't written two entire novel drafts in the first four months, finished a trilogy, and started on editing book one of said trilogy...When I think of it that way, I don't actually mind so much.

Are there any books that you have just sitting around that you haven't gotten to read yet?
How do you get yourself out of a reading slump?
(I need the cure please. xD)

Friday, 19 May 2017

The Adventures of Lando Erif :: The Day I Stopped the Steam Train (Pt. One)

Buckle your seat belts everyone. Today we're going back in time. *Back to the Future theme starts playing*

We're going to hop back a few months - I think? I'm a little bit lost with times at the moment actually. Some day I'll make a timeline with the dates of all these stories. Anyways. We're going back to when Zana wasn't duct taped in her bathtub and ReLocated who-knows-where. And where Lando is taking a train trip.

Have you ever been on a train and wondered why the roof creaks?

Because today you're about to find out why.

The train trip was going fine, which was a surprise for me.

Things I did rarely went fine.

Dad had dropped me off at Central Station early in the morning before heading off to the wharves, and since then I’d changed trains once and hadn’t even forgotten to pay.

But then, for no apparent reason, the roof started making ominous creaking sounds.

At first I ignored it. The holidays were just starting, and I wasn’t going back to Dragon Island for another week. And that week was going to be entirely normal, hanging out with equally normal cousins.

I flicked through the pages of my book, annoyed at myself for being so distracted by a sagging train roof. The words just wouldn’t be read so I stuffed the book into my backpack and stared lazily out the window.

Trees and paddocks flashed by, and I pretended to be engrossed in the landscape but I concentrated on the increased creakings from the roof. 

None of the other passengers had noticed it, but then, none of the other passengers had any reason to think anything out of the ordinary was going to happen on this trip.

I drew a nervous breath through my teeth. As long as it wasn’t Zana Bradford it should be alright.

“We are approaching Branxton Station,” the driver’s voice through the intercom echoed boredom.

Some people in the carriage stirred at the voice, replacing phones in pockets and checking for any personal item they might have left lying around.

I looked out the window as the train station slid into view. Only two people stood waiting and I yawned, wishing I could find out what was on the roof.

Then two running figures dashed across the station and dived through the just opening train doors. I froze in my seat as the long shadow of a dragon wing swung across the platform before disappearing again.

The boys appeared in the doorway of my carriage, blond and auburn hair tousled and sticking out from under wide brimmed felt hats.

“Lando!” Titus panted, finding me.

I scrambled out of my seat and down the aisle toward them, ignoring the disapproving frowns of the other passengers.

“What’re you guys doing here?” I burst out, reaching them.

“We’ve been here for the night ‘cause we missed the last train yesterday – we’re going to Singleton,” Thomas started.

“We saw the train coming and had to run to get here on time,” Titus finished.

“But how did you know I’d be here?”

“Oh yeah, that’s the other reason why we were in a hurry out there,” Thomas said. “I’m guessing you didn’t know that your old friend’s sitting on the roof?”

“Old friend?” I asked, a sinking feeling in my stomach.

“Yup, Zay Nabradyford or whatever she calls herself,” Titus nodded. “She and a nice black-green, grumpy looking dragon are lying on top of this carriage.”

The roof creaked.

“Ah, I was afraid of something like that,” I said.

“She must be waiting for you to get out, so she can jump you,” Titus flicked a tuft of hair from his eyes.

“Egh…” I moved to the side to let a passenger pass. “I guess I’ll…have to…Er…did you have an idea?”

Thomas took off his hat, tossing it in my direction. I grabbed it instinctively. “Put that on,” he said, pulling off his jacket as well. “We’ll swap hats and jackets and I’ll go out there. Zana will think it’s you and come after me and by the time she works it out you’ll be long gone.”

“What?!” Titus turned an incredulous stare on Thomas. “That’s your brilliant idea?”

“Yup,” Thomas said, shoving his jacket at me. “It should work.”

“And what if it does? She’s not gonna be pleased,” Titus protested.

“Oh boy, no,” I agreed. “Look, I’m not letting you go out there and face her while I wait around here.”

“I’m not going to be facing her,” Thomas said. “I’m going to be running for my life.”

“Exactly! And why’d I let you do that?” Titus asked.

“No really,” Thomas said. “Just hear me out. I go out there, Zana thinks I’m Lando and chases me. The train leaves with you two on it, Zana realise that I’m not Lando and goes running after the train. It’ll take her more than ten minutes to catch up to you and by that time you can both be safe hiding somewhere in Singleton.” He paused and spread his hands, “See, perfectly easy!”

I chewed my lip, tapping my fingers on my leg thoughtfully. “What if something goes wrong?”

“It won’t.”

Yeah, like that was ever going to happen.

Reluctantly I began tugging off my favourite plaid jacket, passing it to Thomas. He took his hat out of my hand and jammed it onto my head, making sure it covered my eyes.

“Be seeing you later, when I can get another train down,” he said, cheerfully taking my cap.

The whistle blew and Thomas dashed out of the carriage, reaching the doors just before they closed. Titus joined me at a window.

A golden haired figure appeared on the platform, striding toward Thomas.

He ran.

Titus pounded the sill of the window nervously. “Go on, you can do it,” he muttered.

The train lurched forward.

“Yes…he’s gonna do it,” Titus began to smile.

That was when the plan went wrong.

My cap slipped up off his head, revealing the mess of red hair. Zana skidded to a stop and spun back to the moving train, yelling something incomprehensible. Probably something in some secret fairy-dragon language. But I wouldn’t know.

The carriage rocked slightly and my head slammed forward into the window. A dark shimmering dragon swooped off the roof, scooping Thomas up in one claw.

My vision spun with stars and I collapsed on the seat behind me as the dragon soared back up out of view. The carriage rocked again with its landing weight.

A shrill yell came from above, the dragon’s loud roar drowning it out a moment later. I could see the shadow of the dragon and Thomas on the train roof, and I struggled to stand up as the train gathered speed. 

Thomas’s shadow started sliding backwards along the train.

I froze in horror for a full five seconds.

“The end of the train!” I yelled as soon as my brain kicked in again. “We’ve got to get there before he falls off.”

I dashed down the aisle, not even noticing the protests of the passengers. Titus ran at my heels, sprinting along the length of the moving train.

I smashed straight into the thin orderly.

He grabbed Titus’s arm and moved to block the corridor to the next carriage. “Excuse me boys, this is a train not a racing ground,” he started.

“We’ve got to go to the end carriage,” I shouted at him, and ducked under his blocking arm.

Titus tried to follow, but the orderly wouldn’t let go of his arm.

I dashed through the other carriages, trying to remember how many there were. Every sound from the roof made me run faster. I had to reach the end of the train before Thomas did.

The next carriage was empty except for a snoring old man. 

I yanked the door at the far end open, almost falling out as a rush of air dragged me forward. Thomas’s hat flew off my head and I only just caught it in time, throwing it backward into the carriage. Shuffling out onto the small ledge, I gulped at the sight of the tracks rushing by underneath.

My hands tightened on the bar of the door.

A drawn out shout from above jerked my head up and I looked up. The train lurched around a corner and I was flung outward, still holding onto the bar. My weight slammed the door shut and I scrambled to keep my footing.

Above, Thomas appeared, desperately trying to grab onto something to stop his fall from the end of the train.

I grabbed at his arm just as he slipped, yelling, from the roof. My whole body was jerked forward as his weight came down heavily, only my tight grip on the door rail keeping us from falling off the train entirely. A stab of pain throbbed in my shoulder.

“Yikes!” Thomas yelped, feet kicking just centimeters from the train track.

Straining every muscle, I tried to pull Thomas up but the speed of the train combined with his weight was just too much.

“You’re gonna have to help me here,” I shouted, feeling my fingers begin to slip on the smooth metal.

“How?” Thomas howled as his foot smacked against the track whizzing beneath.

“Get your feet up onto the ledge,” I replied. “Now!”

His flailing feet kicked at the ledge reaching it and then slipping off at the first try. Then they touched again for a moment and I threw myself backwards, hauling him up. With a yelp, he grabbed onto the bar, clinging to it desperately. 

“Not good,” Thomas moaned.

“We’ve got to get the door open,” I gasped, renewing my grip on the bar.

“They only open from the inside,” Thomas panted, hooking his arm around the bar. “I did an essay on trains once.”

“We need to get Titus to open it. Only he’s in trouble for not having a ticket.”

Thomas swung backwards a little as he let go of the bar, only holding on by his elbow hooked around it. Delving into his pocket, he dragged out a small black object.

I stared in amazement. “We’re stuck on the back of a train, and you’re going to hack into some random’s computer?” I nodded at the Com Hack in his hands.

“Not a computer,” Thomas gritted, tapping the screen rapidly. “I was hoping for the train intercom.”

One of my feet slid off the small ledge and I lurched backwards, jerking it up again. The train rounded a steep corner at top speed, the wind roaring in my ears.

“Yes,” Thomas exclaimed. “I think I’ve got it.” He held the Com Hack to his mouth and spoke into it urgently, “Titus Kanter, a call to Titus Kanter. Can you…er…open the back door…please?” Thomas slipped a little and I grabbed his arm, steadying him.

“Titus Kanter come to the back door,” Thomas repeated desperately.

A creak pulled my eyes upward, and I found myself staring into the eyes of Zana’s dragon. It bared its teeth in something that looked uncommonly like a grin.

“Go away,” I shouted at it.

It blinked accusingly at the angry tone and I saw the muscles in its forearm bunch.

“Just leave, and I’ll let you off lightly,” I warned.

The dragon roared and swept an arm down.

I swept a stream of fire up.

The fire and dragon arm met halfway, and the dragon ended up worse. Apparently being fireproof wasn’t enough to stop it from being sufficiently startled to fall from the train in a green heap of wings and spines.

It rumbled furiously and shot out a flash of fire after us.

“Titus Kanter—” Thomas was repeating again, but then the door shuddered once and fell open, sending us tumbling into the train carriage.

A few flames followed us through before Titus slammed the door shut again. Grabbing the fire extinguisher from the wall he spun back, shooting a cloud of freezing liquid in my direction.

I realised that my jacket was on fire.

Or at least, it had been until Titus had frozen it out of existence. 

“You okay?” Titus dropped to his knees beside Thomas.

“I think I might be alive,” he groaned, sitting up. “Just got a few bruises, a fatal case of graze on my elbow and I think Lando lost my hat.”

“He didn’t actually,” Titus picked the hat off the floor. “But he did set fire to your jacket.”

I picked myself up slowly. “That was close,” I said, rubbing my sore shoulder. “How did you get away Ti?”

“The intercom message was enough to distract the guy so I just ran,” Titus replied. “Nice job there,” he added to Thomas.

The thin orderly that had stopped Titus appeared through the door, long legs striding forward. “Do you boys realise that this is a passenger train?” he asked, frowning down at us.

“Er…yes,” I nodded, uncertain where the question was leading.

“And are you aware that it costs money to be allowed on trains?”

“Yeah,” I pulled the crumpled ticket from my pocket and showed it to him.

His eyebrows loomed lower over his eyes. “And you two?” He looked at the twins.

“Ah, well, about that,” Titus muttered. “We kinda don’t exactly…have tickets.”

“Which is illegal,” the man added.

Thomas flashed me a look of alarm. “Please, we didn’t mean to—”

“But you did, if you will kindly inform me the phone number of you parents I am terribly sorry to say that we will have to ask you to get off at the next station,” he said firmly. “A passenger train is no place for disturbances like these.”

The twins nodded silently. Then Thomas raised a tentative hand. “Um, sir, what if our parents are in America?”


“Our parents are in America so it’s probably, like, midnight or something,” Thomas said.

“And we were traveling to our uncle’s place for the holidays,” Titus added.

The tall orderly hesitated. “You will have to get off anyway, we cannot have disruptions during the trip.”

“And you,” he turned to me and I felt my heart sink. “You can join them.”

“I—” I began, but he interrupted me.

“Open flames are not permitted on trains and I don’t see how the bottom half of your jacket managed to get burnt that much without open flames.”

I shut my mouth abruptly. Technically I hadn’t actually been on the train at the time, but I doubted that it would make much difference.

“Consider yourselves lucky that I’m not reporting you as terrorists or something. Stay in this carriage until the next stop and I will come and escort you out.”

“Okay, sir,” Titus said to the man’s back as he strode back out of the carriage.

“Ah, sorry about that, guys,” I muttered, slumping down in a seat. “Hope you don’t get into trouble.”

“That’d be nothing compared to the trouble Zana was going to get you in,” Thomas shrugged.

“Besides,” Titus added. “Mum and Dad know all about the dragons and everything, and they’re convinced we’re all the heroes of the world.”

I thought for a moment. “Well, you could say we were.”

The twins grinned. “Oh yeah,” they agreed in unison.

The driver’s voice came down along the train’s intercom, accompanied by a faint sound of music. “We are approaching Singleton Railway Station, please ensure your belongings are all in place,” the voice sighed. The intercom crackled with a moment of static and silenced.

“Well, I can’t really say the plan worked how it was meant to,” Thomas said. “But we’re still ending up somewhere other than where Zana is.”

I nodded, watching out the window as the station slid into view. “That’s a perk, I guess.”

The thin orderly was back in a moment and sternly led us off the train, picking up my backpack on the way. He left us on the platform with a stern warning not to get into any more trouble.

“Well,” Titus pulled his hand through his untidy hair. “I guess we’d better get going, find our Uncle and everything. Very considering of that man to drop us off at the town we wanted to be in anyway.” He grinned.

Thomas waved his Com Hack at me. “You’ve got your PCP?”

I nodded, pulling the PCP – Private Contact Phone – out of my pocket. I rarely went without it ever since the twins had finished encoding it.

Never know when you’ll need one.

“Yup,” I said, flipping the black phone in the air and catching it again.

“Tell us if anything goes wrong,” Thomas said.

“Same to you,” I said. “Not that anything else’s going to happen now.”

There’s some famous last words for you.

What could possibly go wrong?

Everything could go wrong. Trust me.

I’m an expert on going wrong.

- - -

*dramatic music*

So yep there you go. This was written a few months/a year/I don't remember when ago by specific request of my brothers. Originally I was telling them the story aloud and making it up as I went, but then I had a flash of inspiration and thought up the rest of a half decent plot and I stopped telling them the story so I could write it.

Of course I left them waiting on a nice cliffhanger ending. Because I'm mean like that. :P

And then because I'm extra mean, I didn't write the story for another month or so.

But luckily for you guys you'll get the second half next week, rather than waiting half a year to know how it all ends. *bows graciously*

Have you ever been on a train trip?
Do you have any ideas/requests for more Lando stories?
(I'm running out here, I need some more soonish)

Friday, 12 May 2017

The Adventures of Lando Erif :: The Day I Won the ARY (Pt. Two)

Life has been pretty busy over here, what with first drafts, catching up on school work, writing a short story, editing said first draft and short story. And also preparing for a homeschool beach camp weekend.

Okay okay maybe I did less preparing, and more randomly shove everything into a backpack and woohoo that's done moving on now. (No one ever said I was a methodical and thorough packer. xD)

But here we are on part two of the Lando story, and I hope you enjoy. This one has a lot less cats and a lot more being awarded ARYs and the such.

:: Part One ::

I drew in a lungful of air and breathed out a gush of flames at the front line. 

To my disappointment they didn’t incinerate but now we had white and black kittens attacking us. Nicely charcoaled but still not dead. Titus grabbed his ever-present screwdriver from his pocket and met the charge of cats with an attack of his own. Thomas started waving his Com Hack in front of him, melting kittens as they came.

Having no such weapon, I had to defend myself with my hands. I kicked, whacked and generally hit anything white that I could get my hands on. Kittens filled my field of vision, jumping at us with lightning fast attacks.

“No!” Thomas yelled, his voice cutting across the sound of our attackers.

Somehow I heard a clatter and something hit my foot. I punched a cat and ducked down, picking the small black object up. Thomas’s Com Hack felt hot in my hand, and I felt the tiny buttons on the side.

A kitten pounced and I held the high-tech hacker tightly, swinging it at the creature. Before it hit something strange occurred.

The Com Hack buzzed and a ray of red light shot out of the end. I yelped in shock and dropped it, but the ray had already done its work.

I blinked, staring around the square, empty of all signs of the kittens except for a massive shimmering puddle on the black asphalt.

“Wow,” Thomas blinked up from the ground. “Did you do that?”

“Um, I guess so,” I said, picking up the Com Hack apprehensively. “I dunno how.”

Titus whistled as he surveyed the puddle. “Is that the killer kittens?” he asked.

“Guess so,” I replied, wiping the remains of a kitten off my arm. I tossed the Com Hack to Thomas, who studied it intently.

“Amazing,” he muttered. “I didn’t even know it could do that.” He froze suddenly, “Oh no.”

“What?” I asked, my heartbeat quickening.

“We’ve only got minutes until the Awarding starts back at Dragon Island,” he said. “If we’re late again...” He didn’t have to finish.

We all knew what he was getting at.

Titus procured a golden Net from it pocket. “We need to run,” he said then grinned, “Not literally, I think we’ve just done enough of that today.”

Thomas was bouncing up and down on the spot. “Okay, can we just leave?”

“Righty-o,” Titus tossed the Net in the air above us. It expanded as it fell, and I heard the familiar buzzing as it activated. As soon as it touched us the world went black.

We tumbled out onto one of the hanging Nets on Dragon Island. 

I rolled to the ground, getting my feet tangled and landing in a heap. The twins jumped off and helped me to my feet. 

The sound of a Dragon’s Horn being blown echoed across the island and Thomas groaned. “That’s the starting call,” he said. “We’ll never make it.”

Setting off instantly, we sprinted up the hill, and, not for the first time, I found myself wishing that the main hall wasn’t at the very top.

It was probably Sir George’s idea to build it there.

We burst into the hall, breathless and hot. Luckily Frontrunner —the leader of Dragon Island— Aliella Scot was in the middle of her introduction speech so our late entry was only noticed by those closest to the doors. 

I scanned the hall quickly. all the seats were filled except for three, right in the front row. I winced, there goes our chance at a concealed appearance. 

Thomas grimaced at me as he noticed the same thing. With a shrug, he led the way to the spare seats. Heads turned as we dropped into our place and Scarlette Broome, the girl next to us, rolled her eyes. 

“Are you ever on time?” she whispered.

I grinned wryly. “We had a cat problem,” I returned in the same quiet voice.

Scarlette rolled her eyes again and turned back to Aliella.

The tall brunette finished her speech and cleared her throat. “We have several awards to give out today,” Aliella said. “Co-director Sir George Heelay will do the honours.”

Aliella was the official director of Dragon Island. She’d been in the position for years, but she didn’t look like she could be much older than twenty-something. She stepped aside and took a seat on the side of the stage as Sir George appeared on stage. “First award is the ‘Best ReLocator’, I would like to ask Mister Lewis Yorke to come up onto the stage and accept the trophy.”

There was a smattering of applause and a dark haired boy climbed the steps onto the platform. Sir George hit the button on a small machine and it buzzed into life. 

“That’s the 3-D printer,” Titus whispered. “He programs the trophies on his computer and then he prints them out with fake bronze.”

Thomas was fingering his chin thoughtfully as his twin spoke and I saw him slip his hand into his pocket casually. I wondered what he was up to.

The 3-D printer finished and Sir George presented the newly made trophy to Lewis. They shook hands firmly and then Lewis went to stand to the side of the stage.

A Miss Madison was next, with the ‘Dragon Charming’ award. Then a young guy for the ‘Dragon Riding.’ At that point I nudged Titus. “We can ride dragons? Like, legally?” I asked.

“It’s only for over eighteens,” he explained, leaning over in his seat so I could hear his whisper. 

I fell silent again as the awards continued to be handed out. Scarlette got chosen for the ‘Best Net Repairer’ and it went on. Eventually Sir George paused and looked directly at me and the twins. “And now, we have only one award left,” he said. “Most of you will have heard of the ARY.”

A ripple of laughter ran through the recruits gathered. 

Titus, Thomas and I exchanged a glance and grinned. So what if we got the ‘Annoying Recruits of the Year.’ We were the Terrible Trio.

“This is the sole award that can be given to more than one person per year,” Sir George continued. “Please come up, Titus Kanter, Thomas Kanter and Lando Erif.”

We rose and trouped up the stairs. Sir George frowned at our smiles and pointed at the floor beside him. We shuffled into place.

I noticed that Thomas was bent over himself, fiddling with something in the palm of his hands. 

Sir George coughed. “I hope you like the trophy to add to your collection,” he said to Titus. He tapped the button on the 3-D printer again and it started on the last award.

Thomas’s fingers were moving rapidly, and I began to have a suspicion of what he was doing.

Sir George picked up the trophy. “There are some new recruits who haven’t heard of the ARY award,” he paused and turned to the line of award winners. “Perhaps Scarlette will read it out for us all,” Sir George suggested.

Scarlette took the plaque and looked at the bronze nameplate on it and her mouth dropped open. Sir George motioned for her to read it out but she just stood there gaping at it. “Sir George, I think we have something wrong...” she trailed off and pointed.

Sir George frowned. “What?” he peered at the engraved plate. “Terrible Trio...The Amazing Recruits of the— no!” he stopped, seemingly lost for words.

Thomas looked at me, all too obviously struggling not to laugh. He opened his hand and I caught a glimpse of his Com Hack before he slipped it into his pocket.

A laugh welled up inside me and my shoulders began to shake silently. I pressed my lips together to stop myself from bursting out laughing.

Titus looked at us bemusedly. I didn’t try to explain, I knew that if I did I’d end up laughing my head off.

Frontrunner Aliella rose and walked to Sir George. They had a quick conversation in low tones and then Aliella took the award and turned to the puzzled onlookers.

“I’m afraid to say that we have had a strange technical difficulty, but we shall proceed nonetheless,” she glanced at us and I managed to get my face suitably serious in time.

“Such a positive outlook,” Thomas murmured.

“I give you this award in honour of your combined diligence and loyalty in the art of,” she paused and looked down at the nameplate, “Providing amusement to the Island and generally being the most Amazing Recruits of the Year.” She handed the trophy to me and shook my hand. As I looked up at her, her lips twisted into the all too familiar appearance of trying to hide a smile.

She shook hands with each of the twins and then turned to the crowd and started thanking them all for their work in the past year.

I looked down at the dragon shaped trophy in my hand. A bronze plate gleamed up at me, inscribed with the words: Awarded to The Terrible Trio. For Providing Amusement to the Island and Generally Being the Most Amazing Recruits of the Year.

Titus looked over my shoulder and smiled widely. “First time we’ve won that award,” he stated cheerfully. “Now we have another trophy to add to the collection.”

“I think I like this year’s words best,” Thomas said tapping the plaque. “This one’s actually addressed personally,” he grinned. “To The Terrible Trio.”

“And you never know,” Titus said optimistically. “Maybe next year we’ll win something different.”

“I’m sure you will,” Scarlette, standing beside me in the line, interrupted. “In your dreams.”

“You’re forgetting one thing,” I said and nodded knowingly at her. I exchanged a look with the twins.

“We are the Terrible Trio,” we said in unison.

- - -

And there we are. This was actually the ending story to my original batch of Lando. (And if anything is slightly weird in sections, I'm blaming past-me, because I only veeeery roughly went over it before this post.)

Have a great weekend folks, I know I will. Probably freeze myself because it's almost winter and we're going to the beach, but all good fun, y'know.

So tally ho for now!

Are you a last-minute packer, or do you rather have everything done early so you can move of to organising everyone else?
Is it just me or is this year going insanely fast?
(It can't be just me. Tell me it isn't? Please?? *searches frantically for the beginning half of the year*)